8:00 PM: The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman tweeted that it “doesn’t sound like” Chychrun will be headed to the Edmonton Oilers or Los Angeles Kings, a sentiment that was echoed (at least on the Oilers’ side of things) by TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, who tweeted that “any sense of urgency” happening with Chychrun and tonight’s choice to healthy scratch him does not involve the Oilers.
Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek also added on the 32 Thoughts segment of tonight’s Sportsnet broadcast that the Toronto Maple Leafs are not believed to be a team currently aggressively pursuing a possible trade for the Coyotes star.
It’s commonplace for teams to hold players out of games in order to ensure they’re able to be traded, so this move signals that the Coyotes are gearing up to deal Chychrun in the relatively near future. A trade may not be coming immediately, though, as PHNX Sports’ Craig Morgan reports that he does not believe “a trade is imminent” but that it could come before the Coyotes’ game Monday versus the Nashville Predators.
In addition to the Chychrun news, the team has also announced that forward Liam O’Brien is out day-to-day with an upper-body injury, and defensemen Victor Soderstrom and Dysin Mayo have been recalled from the team’s AHL affiliate, the Tucson Roadrunners.
This move with Chychrun should not come as a complete surprise. Yesterday, we covered reports that the Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings had “taken things up a notch” in their Chychrun trade talks. Tonight’s healthy scratch is the firmest confirmation we’ve gotten that the Coyotes intend to trade Chychrun throughout his entire lengthy trade saga. While it is unknown whether a deal is imminent, it’s highly uncommon for teams to hold players out of the lineup for “trade-related” reasons only to not trade those players.
In Chychrun, his acquiring team will receive a talented blueliner on a valuable contract that costs only $4.6MM AAV until 2025. He’s scored 28 points in 36 games this season and is a well-regarded defender, especially against the rush. He’s likely to be the top defender traded at this deadline, and the Coyotes should expect a hefty return in exchange for his services.
Beyond this Chychrun news, the Coyotes announced two recalls from the AHL and an injury update for O’Brien. In recalling Soderstrom and Mayo, the Coyotes seem to be reinforcing their blueline in advance of Chychrun’s expected departure.
Soderstrom is projected to feature on the team’s top pairing next to Patrik Nemeth tonight, and it’s likely that once Chychrun is firmly out of the picture the 2019 11th-overall pick will get an extended chance to show what he can do at the NHL level.